July 4th program, blast honor veterans, service personnel
Lakota horseback riders from the Pine Ridge, Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations teamed with non-Native American riders to lead a July 4th ceremony at Crazy Horse Memorial that honored living and deceased military veterans.
The commemorative event, the first of its kind at the Memorial, saw the group carry in U.S. flags presented by families wishing to honor one or more relatives. The roll call included 64 names, a partial listing of a long line of people deserving recognition, said group spokesman Charles New Holy.
The ceremony capped a 120- to 140-mile ride that started June 29 from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and other points by members of the A’ki’ci’ta Sung’akan O’kola’ki’ciye (Lakota for “Warrior Horse Society”) and the O’maka Tokatakiya (Future Generations) riders.
The July 4th prayer and singing program in the foreground of the mountain carving was a tribute to the Lakota Akicita, the modern warriors who served and are serving in the U.S. armed forces. The honorees included ride founder Jack Cummings of Rapid City, who died in February.
In welcoming the group, Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation representative Monique Ziolkowski cited Defense Department statistics reporting that American Indians have the highest per-capita military representation of any ethnic group.
The Memorial’s yearly July 4th mountain blast at 11 a.m. honored the continuing commitment of Native Americans to their historic cultural customs, and saluted all veterans and the current defenders of freedom in memory of Crazy Horse sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, a decorated World War II Army sergeant.